The next in his 5K-a-month goal is at Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago.
The “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to do something” moment for Derek Mitchell came last November in the doctor’s office when he stepped on the scale and it read … 625 pounds.
“That’s when I knew I needed to make a change,” says Mitchell.
He started walking a mile a day, cut out soda, ate healthier and beginning in March added another chapter to his weight-loss saga: walking a 5K every month.
Come Saturday, Mitchell will add the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K to his race list. While he’s gobbling up medals, he’s losing weight. Mitchell weighed 534 the last time he stepped on a scale, a loss of 91 pounds.
“I know that it’s healthy for me. I know it will make my life better,” he says. “I feel amazing every time I step on the scale and see that smaller number.”
Five years ago Mitchell was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor on his pituitary gland that prevents his body from producing testosterone. Testosterone controls metabolism, energy and drive, which made it difficult for Mitchell to lose weight.
His first 5K came in his hometown of Kansas City, Mo. It took him a while to cover the 3.1 miles: 1 hour, 27 minutes and 44 seconds.
“I hadn’t even gotten to the first mile and they were already closing intersections behind me,” he told People magazine. “I tried to put it out of my mind.”
Initially, Mitchell said he was a little intimidated about showing up at races.
“That’s when I basically put my headphones in and tried to drown everything out,” says Mitchell, who works in IT.
Since then he has discovered that the running community is inclusive.
“I’m loving the 5K,” he says. “The running community is so encouraging. I’ve made a lot of friends just because of their character. They accept everyone, no matter what they look like.”
The man is so hooked on racing that he’s planning on tackling a marathon. And not just some time in the distant future. Mitchell has already been comped an entry for the Dec. 13 Honolulu Marathon.
It seems a friend told him about a guy named Kelly Gneiting, a sumo wrestler who at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon set the Guinness World Record for the heaviest person to complete a marathon. Gneiting’s weight: 400 pounds.
Mitchell researched a marathon without a time limit and found out about Honolulu. If he continues losing weight at 12 pounds a month, he should weigh about 466 pounds by December.
So what happens if the pounds magically start dripping off and he weighs less than 400 pounds by Dec. 13?
“Then I won’t get the Guinness World Record,” says Mitchell. “But I’m still going to finish the marathon.”